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Opinions wanted for Umpire Indicator!


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Hi everyone,

My name is Mason Black and I am a junior baseball player and engineer at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Our capstone design project revolves around revolutionizing the umpire indicator, and we would love your input! 

Here is the link to our survey and feel free to ask any questions below! Thank you for your help in advance:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfpmWksZzTzPuhnTIhMZnD3Sy1_2eNyGAH_feBFZo7TsoNqMg/viewform?usp=sf_link

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If you had one that ran on the anger generated by parents, you'd never run out of power.

One unofficial definition of a geek is "a person that uses technology to solve a problem that doesn't really exist while creating an entirely new set of problems to solve".       

Ha!  I see what you did there.

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1 hour ago, Mason Black said:

Hi everyone,

My name is Mason Black and I am a junior baseball player and engineer at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Our capstone design project revolves around revolutionizing the umpire indicator, and we would love your input! 

Here is the link to our survey and feel free to ask any questions below! Thank you for your help in advance:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfpmWksZzTzPuhnTIhMZnD3Sy1_2eNyGAH_feBFZo7TsoNqMg/viewform?usp=sf_link

You'll need to adjust the permissions so people outside your org can access it. 

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I can't access either, but you may want to check out UmpireStuff.com

The man that runs that site is creating an electronic indicator that should be coming to market soon.  It is revolutionary also.

image.jpeg.bdbdced9981eb8c7be3ab13714dd091b.jpeg

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8 hours ago, Mason Black said:

Hi everyone,

My name is Mason Black and I am a junior baseball player and engineer at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Our capstone design project revolves around revolutionizing the umpire indicator, and we would love your input! 

Here is the link to our survey and feel free to ask any questions below! Thank you for your help in advance:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfpmWksZzTzPuhnTIhMZnD3Sy1_2eNyGAH_feBFZo7TsoNqMg/viewform?usp=sf_link

As a proud (2x) alumnus of this fine, fine institution, I urge my umpire brethren on the site to help this young man and his design team develop the Mother of All Indicators.

Mason, if you want opinions, you came to the right place. You have no idea what you may have unleashed.

Also, I am local (as in I can walk from my house to J. David Walker field).  There is no shortage of local umpires that would be interested in helping you.  PM me if I can be of help. 

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10 hours ago, Mason Black said:

Hi everyone,

My name is Mason Black and I am a junior baseball player and engineer at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Our capstone design project revolves around revolutionizing the umpire indicator, and we would love your input! 

Here is the link to our survey and feel free to ask any questions below! Thank you for your help in advance:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfpmWksZzTzPuhnTIhMZnD3Sy1_2eNyGAH_feBFZo7TsoNqMg/viewform?usp=sf_link

Mason,

    Here is what they are talking about.

 

image.png.ceec9530ec2b101f4c7fafd02c5cd421.png

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2 hours ago, wolfe_man said:

I can't access either, but you may want to check out UmpireStuff.com

The man that runs that site is creating an electronic indicator that should be coming to market soon.  It is revolutionary also.

image.jpeg.bdbdced9981eb8c7be3ab13714dd091b.jpeg

One unofficial definition of a geek is "a person that uses technology to solve a problem that doesn't really exist while creating an entirely new set of problems to solve".       

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1 minute ago, boyinr said:

One unofficial definition of a geek is "a person that uses technology to solve a problem that doesn't really exist while creating an entirely new set of problems to solve".       

If you're saying we don't need an (electronic) indicator, or possibly an indicator at all, then I am inclined to agree with you.  I must be one of the few who still keep one on me at all times.   To be fair, I am not at the level of some on here as the highest baseball that I call is HS Varsity and Sr. Legion games.

There was a time I was a geek, but I'm not sure that I'm smart enough to be considered one now.

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3 hours ago, wolfe_man said:

I can't access either, but you may want to check out UmpireStuff.com

The man that runs that site is creating an electronic indicator that should be coming to market soon.  It is revolutionary also.

image.jpeg.bdbdced9981eb8c7be3ab13714dd091b.jpeg

Personally, I wouldn't want to use anything that depends on batteries, or could be susceptible to extreme cold or heat...or rain...

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26 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

Personally, I wouldn't want to use anything that depends on batteries, or could be susceptible to extreme cold or heat...or rain...

Now if they integrated a solar panel on it or a small windmill, it should be prepared for most weather conditions a baseball game is played in. <sarcasm>

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1 hour ago, BLWizzRanger said:

Now if they integrated a solar panel on it or a small windmill, it should be prepared for most weather conditions a baseball game is played in. <sarcasm>

If you had one that ran on the anger generated by parents, you'd never run out of power.

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6 hours ago, wolfe_man said:

I can't access either, but you may want to check out UmpireStuff.com

The man that runs that site is creating an electronic indicator that should be coming to market soon.  It is revolutionary also.

image.jpeg.bdbdced9981eb8c7be3ab13714dd091b.jpeg

I had the chance to see this in person recently. The more I played around with it the more I liked it. It has some really cool features for getting the count, keeping a 20 second timer, etc. I plan on picking one up once it actually releases. 

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2 minutes ago, Stk004 said:

I had the chance to see this in person recently. The more I played around with it the more I liked it. It has some really cool features for getting the count, keeping a 20 second timer, etc. I plan on picking one up once it actually releases. 

I may also, IF the price is affordable.  I haven't heard numbers yet, but worry that we'll be looking at $50+ by the time it comes out.

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5 minutes ago, wolfe_man said:

I may also, IF the price is affordable.  I haven't heard numbers yet, but worry that we'll be looking at $50+ by the time it comes out.

I'm afraid so. But, for some perspective, the refsmart timer the NCAA promotes is $70. If my indicator can keep the 20-second clock and more for a similar price, I think it's pretty easy to justify buying it. Obviously that rationale isn't as applicable for guys that don't work NCAA/JUCO. 

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13 hours ago, wolfe_man said:

I may also, IF the price is affordable.  I haven't heard numbers yet, but worry that we'll be looking at $50+ by the time it comes out.

 

13 hours ago, Stk004 said:

I'm afraid so. But, for some perspective, the refsmart timer the NCAA promotes is $70. If my indicator can keep the 20-second clock and more for a similar price, I think it's pretty easy to justify buying it. Obviously that rationale isn't as applicable for guys that don't work NCAA/JUCO. 

@Stk004and @wolfe_man, the pre-production runs that Louis Nickerson (the inventory of the E Indicator) has done went for around $89 plus shipping. So I would anticipate the full production run to be in that same price point. Hopefully no more!

I too plan to get one once full production hits.

2 hours ago, ousafe said:

If it integrates with GameChanger, you will have scorekeepers buying the things for you.

There has been talk of it being wifi enabled amongst other grand ideas. So I would not be surprised if it becomes Game Changer compatible at some point.

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On 3/3/2021 at 8:42 PM, Mason Black said:

Hi everyone,

My name is Mason Black and I am a junior baseball player and engineer at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Our capstone design project revolves around revolutionizing the umpire indicator, and we would love your input! 

Here is the link to our survey and feel free to ask any questions below! Thank you for your help in advance:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfpmWksZzTzPuhnTIhMZnD3Sy1_2eNyGAH_feBFZo7TsoNqMg/viewform?usp=sf_link

I will also add that my daughter's capstone is storing wind-based energy for later use, and monetizing the bi-product.  She'd rather design a wireless umpire indicator.

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@Mason Black, your survey questionnaire is not for me. More specifically, its options and parameters did not take into account "my type" of umpiring: 

  1. What age level do you primarily umpire at? – Why isn't there a "check all" option? I may not willingly or happily do 11U, but it's something that I've done. Also, the age ranges do not define the type of baseball. Yes, 8-9 is a type, but 10-12 is distinctly different than 13-14. Then you've got 15-18. Then, at 18, there's a split into "college" (amateur), "recreational" (adult league) and "professional" (Minor and Major Leagues, other professional baseball leagues). There are several on this U-E forum who can, truthfully, check all the boxes. 
  2. On a scale from 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with your current indicator? – I can't answer this, because I don't own or use an indicator. So, do I say I'm dissatisfied with all indicators, thus why I don't use one? Or, do I say that I'm highly satisfied with my indicator, which is my ol' brain cells right now, and has been for the past 9 years?
  3. Which hand do you hold your indicator in? – This is known as a "weasel" question. Now, granted, you (Mason) didn't intend for it to be so, but it is. First, I can't answer that binary question – left or right – because I don't own or use an indicator. Second, as any umpire on U-E will point out, rather fervently, an indicator should shall only be carried in the left hand. 
  4. On a scale from 1 to 5, how often do you look at the scoreboard during a game? – That's assuming there is a (working) scoreboard. Many of us don't have that luxury, or at least a degree of reliability on a working one being there. I ain't going to lie – in most of the levels I work, there is a working scoreboard and I can dial back my... "focus factor" on maintaining the count in "active memory", because I can glance at the scoreboard to verify my count. In my case, I'm a bit more unique, since I was a catcher and goalie (for hockey and soccer), and played basketball in college, so I was trained to look at and interpret scoreboards differently than the casual fan. I've been conditioned to glance at the scoreboard frequently, but in my case, it's for a variety of purposes. 
  5. How often do you find a deviation between your personal indicator and the scoreboard? – Heh, where's the deviation coming from? :HS
  6. On a scale of 1 to 5, how much does the idea of an umpire indicator that wirelessly controls the scoreboard directly appeal to you? – Another weasel question that you, Mason, likely didn't realize was one. The game of baseball needs a scorekeeper; it needs an umpire; and those two really should not be combined. Now, would I want to control the scoreboard, especially the count, thereby assuring its accuracy? It's awfully tempting. However, there's a bunch of grief and additional attention that keeping the scorebook / scoreboard entails that really, an umpire should not burden themselves with. 
  7. What do you need most out of an indicator? – Nothing, other than physically being "there" so as to appease particular college evaluators who claim that I should / must use an indicator. 


    Otherwise, a countdown timer would be nice. Can't fast-forward a timer/stopwatch. Eliminate accusations of "time shaving" on timed tournament games. 
  8. Please rank how important the following features would be in a wireless umpire indicator on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 very unimportant ; 5 very important) Cost? Durability? Ease of Use? Size? Weight? – Are you, Mason, approaching this as an engineer? Programmer? Product designer? Financier? This question will shape what factors you value in the design. 
  9. Would you prefer a wireless umpire indicator to look like traditional indicators or would you rather it looks modern? – 10% of me wants a traditional one, just to appease those skeptical evaluators I mentioned before; however, 90% of me wants MODERN baby! Blow away conventional form factor! Why can't an indicator be a baton? Or be shaped like a grenade? Or like a neuralizer a-la Men In Black?
  10. What is the most outrageous feature you would want to see in an indicator? – Taser gun. Too aggressive? (Pain) Pill dispenser. Too miserable? Voice-activated responsiveness, "Hey blue! What's the count?" Automated voice, selectively set to such iconic voices as David McCullough, Morgan Freeman, Cora (from Halo), or Betty White, "The count is three and two." ... loud enough so the whole park hears it and you don't have yet another coach or player ask you. 

Really, the features that'd be nice to have are: Countdown timer with separate stopwatch (so you can time the game, and time pitch (20 sec) and inning (2 minutes, typically) intervals separately), the ability to reset the count to 0-0 (for a new batter) with the programmed press of a button (pressed-and-held? press three times in rapid succession? other?), and a stepped counter to count and display how many runs scored in a half-inning. 

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On 3/4/2021 at 9:03 AM, boyinr said:

One unofficial definition of a geek is "a person that uses technology to solve a problem that doesn't really exist while creating an entirely new set of problems to solve".       

Hey, wait a minute. I'm a geek.

But now that I read it again, you might be on to something.

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I don't want my indicator controlling the scoreboard, but a wireless "press here to alert the scoreboard operator that I'm right and you're wrong" would be useful.

And I'd much rather the scoreboard integrate with GameChanger than with my indicator.

But as for "dream features" (and I indicated this on my form), here is what would be useful: integration with a visor (think Google Glass), along with a count-up that can tell you how long it's been since changed, to avoid that "dangit - did I change my count after that foul ball? Now I've got to re-play this at-bat in my head" feeling. Also, an added bonus would be the ability to 3-D print your own mechanical pieces.

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28 minutes ago, MadMax said:

This is known as a "weasel" question.

When did you stop beating your wife?

@Mason Black, Madmax raises some fantastic points here, especially in question/response 8.

As someone who has been in Info Tech for more than two decades, and has designed/engineered many systems for many purposes, I'll give you some free advice that will save you a lot of headaches.  Don't design from the perspective of an engineer, and don't design from the perspective of technology.   Nobody gives a SH*# how cool the tech is.  History is littered with fantastic technology that has failed miserably simply because the market didn't need it, or perceive its value.   Or it was too early.

In short..."sell me this pen".

What problem are you trying to solve?  Which value or efficiency are you trying to achieve?

Are you helping umpires keep the count, or are you helping spectators/players/etc know the count?

Or do you just want people to use this cool gadget?

 

Umpires have a requirement to know the count.  

Indicators help some/umpires achieve this, but are not required.

Many umpires can achieve their requirement without an appliance or technical assistance.

Do the existing indicators fall short in some way?   *** Hurdle/Opportunity

 

Players have a requirement (or in many cases, a wish) to know the count.

They can ask an umpire.

Do umpires see value in never having to tell a player the count?   **** Hurdle/Opportunity

Do players wish they didn't have to ask an umpire?  OK, they can't carry indicators, and they aren't paying attention all the time.   But you're not selling a gadget to the umpires to help the players keep count.

 

Scorekeepers sometimes are required to know the count.  

They have a scorebook or an app to help achieve this.

They only need to ask the umpire if they aren't doing their job - the only reason a scorekeeper doesn't know the count is they're distracted

They don't need the scoreboard - they're potentially updating the scoreboard ***Hurdle/Opportunity - except they are already updating the scoreboard

 

The separation between scorekeeper and umpire provides an opportunity to independently verify.

Is there a working scoreboard in enough fields for this to matter?

Fans want to see an up-to-date scoreboard...and maybe even with an up-to-date count.  ----->  Potential Market - are you selling to umpires to help the spectators?

Do umpires care about this, and should they?   ***Hurdle/Opportunity

 

If an umpire has a working indicator in their hand, and that indicator is synch'ing to the scoreboard...are they more inclined to reference their indicator or the scoreboard to verify the count?  ***Hurdle/Opportunity

I'm thinking you're tapping the wrong market.

This might be something coaches or scorekeepers would buy.  Many coaches have indicators to keep count.  Maybe a home coach would link it to their scoreboard...

But this goes back to the original problem...

Only the UMPIRES are required to know an accurate count.   So no one is accountable to the accuracy of the scoreboard.

 

I think you're onto something...if not a gadget that is used by the scorekeeper, coach, etc, but I'm thinking it's more like a facility based sensor...like an Amazon Echo Dot...that picks up the umpire's ball/strike call - updates the scoreboard...announces the count over the speakers in James Earl Jones' voice, etc.   It's a service the field provides.  Not the umpire.

 

 

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Guest Mason

I could not be happier with the feedback that I got on here from y'all, you opened my eyes to the real questions that we need to be considering.

I'll 100% be taking this back to my team to let them know everyones input on here. @MadMax and @beerguy55, to your points, we are not the ones assessing the market for this...only the ones in charge of making the technology happen to the users liking (so an engineers perspective is where my head is at). Overall, I love that you two lit me up in your response and our intent is not to make your (the umpire's) job any harder than what is on your plate already. 

Thank you guys for your input on here, again! 

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I answered, but FYI, all umpires at every level are trained to hold indicators in their LEFT hand.  The right hand is used for signaling, etc., and the left hand holds the indicator.  That simply should not be a question on your survey, and you should NOT release any indicator designed for the right hand.  You'll lose money on that one!

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